The (Immaterial) Gravitas of Web Searches
I’ve noticed in more than a few articles I’ve read recently that to build up the magnitude of the subjects they cover, the authors will say something like “A Google search on (fill in the blank) yields more than 10,000 (or however many) results.” As someone who performs Web searches on a very frequent basis, these arguments fail to impress. I’ve discovered that Googling a topic, almost any topic at all—like, oh I don’t know, hot girls you knew back in high school—will return a considerable amount of sites.
If the sheer number of results of a Web search is indicative of the significance of something or someone, then according to Google, perennially pregnant pop tart Britney Spears (52.9 million) is more than twice as important as New York Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton (25.2 million). Come on…Hillary’s at least 75 percent as important as Britney.
Besides, the Web is so big that anyone can get a lot results from virtually any search at all. Just take random combinations of words and see what you get. Here’s a few I came up with:
- hammer gasket trail (48,600 results)
- university Pluto river (568,000)
- lamp poolside roller skates (927)
The Internet is an undeniably useful research tool, but let’s be clear about what it is—a giant Web of randomly assembled and constantly changing information. Under these circumstances, search results aren’t a particularly useful way to determine what matters.